SOUTHWEST GLENDALE — Precision pitching and steady defense is hard to come by at the 9- and 10-year-old level, but at the onset of Tuesday’s opening round District 16 9-10 Baseball All-Stars game, that was what Vaquero got and precisely what Foothill did not.
It led the Vaquero All-Stars to a commanding 11-4 win at Pacific Park.
“I think our pitching’s pretty solid,” said Vaquero Coach Juan Piedra.
Piedra got a perfect 1 2/3 innings from starter Gio Ceballos, who struck out four of the five batters he faced, getting quickly pulled to save his services for today, when Vaquero faces Burbank at 5 p.m. at Pacific.
“I expected that ... so I could pitch [today],” said Ceballos, who had a single, a walk, three runs scored and one driven in.
Ceballos, Orlando Diaz, Arturo Gonzalez, David Piedra and Javier Hurtado combined for nine strikeouts and allowed just four hits. They also did so with the majority of them held to 20 pitches, enabling them to pitch again today if needed.
“Burbank is gonna be our biggest challenge,” said Coach Piedra.
Piedra’s squad was up 6-0 by the time he gave Ceballos the hook, thanks to five Foothill errors, four walks and a host of wild pitches.
“The kids played hard, but early on in Little League, if you give a team a three- or four-run lead it’s hard to come back,” said Foothill Coach Will Alaimo, whose team committed just one more error after the second inning, but was certainly victimized by its early transgressions. “We paid for it.”
Foothill, which plays either Crescenta Valley or Tujunga on Thursday, saw starter Connor Rodriguez strike out the side in the first, but he also walked two and the only ball put in play turned into two errors and Ceballos scoring for a 1-0 lead.
After Ceballos turned in an 11-pitch 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the first, Gonzalez, Hurtado, Ceballos, Daniel Gonzalez and Piedra all scored runs in the top of the sixth.
All the runs occurred with the only hits — singles by Alex Garcia, Daniel Gonzalez and Diaz — coming via the infield variety.
Foothill reliever Cameron Penza held Vaquero scoreless in the top of the third, which was highlighted by an over-the-shoulder catch by Foothill first baseman Cole Gabriel Rebmann.
In the third, Rebmann was the first Foothill player in the game to reach base, doing so on an error.
Later in the inning, Shaun Theirling doubled to right-center and courtesy runner Chris Arzoumanian scored on a ball put in play by Rodriguez for a 6-1 score.
Vaquero answered in kind, though, with a two-run triple by Arturo Gonzalez keying a three-run fourth.
For Vaquero, Piedra had two walks, two runs and a stolen base, while Diaz had two hits, two runs, two stolen bases and an RBI.
Rodriguez, who also had a run and a stolen base, added an RBI triple in the fifth.